THIS is a story about a summer holiday - a British summer holiday. Now is the time for the fortnight you have looked forward to for months, and have longed for during the past few sweaty weeks. But this is a story about catching the forecast the night before you were due to leave for the seaside, when you saw the weather forecaster's dark clouds scudding right over the top of your destination.

So you have squeezed everything that could be squeezed into your roll bag. Your luggage has become a testimony to 'just-in-case' packing and it is straining at the seams. For you have kept in that flighty wisp of a dress you bought in optimism for a fine British summer; you have kept in that teeny little chemise you thought you had been so clever to find secondhand, to cover sensitive skin against the harmful rays of the sun.

You have even kept in those flimsy floral dresses that you bought in a daft last-minute dash into the high-street shops the lunchtime before you were due to leave - even though you knew then, as you know now, that a holiday in Britain was hardly likely to be that hot no matter what bands of high pressure you'd hoped for.

But then you panicked. You threw in a couple of trusty, warm sweaters just in case it got really freezing down on the beach. And then, well, your bag was so heavy anyway, that you tossed in old favourites, including your classic, cream cricket trousers and your beloved Indian shawl.

And then it was a case of, 'why shouldn't I bring my natty gold loafers? I happen to like them'. Then those vivid satin pyjamas you bought from Vivienne Westwood because you loved them, but were never sure where you might wear them, came along, too. You also slung in your anorak.

This is a story about a British summer holiday, chosen in preference to a skin-damaging week's package in a half-built hotel five hours' coach transfer from an airport. But holiday dressing for a temperate isle is altogether more downbeat, and therefore more comfortable, than the style required to wear teeny-weeny bright bits and pieces for a strut along some Mediterranean seafront.

British holiday dressing is about mixing and matching. It is about pulling together the strangest things - old and new, thick and flimsy, and having the freedom to wear them in a way you never would at home.

It is a holiday spent taking energising walks along a breezy beach where blue-grey sand merges with blue-grey sky, where those high- heeled mules that sun-gnarled women wear would look distinctly out of place. It is a story of blustery wind, scattered showers, outbreaks of rain and occasionally sunny spells - with an eclectic wardrobe to match.

(Photograph omitted)